Getting Started With A Bullet Journal

I have taken the plunge and have started a bullet journal. I know, I know, I am rather late to this party, but better late than never, right? A bullet journal is a type of free-flow organiser that you can create and design yourself, to help you keep on top of things. As it’s all new to me, today I wanted to share with you my initial thoughts and for those of you who are still to give this a try, or perhaps haven’t even heard of it, I’ll share a few tips for getting started with a bullet journal.

This post contains affiliate links, so if you buy from them I will earn a small commission, thank you. 

What is a bullet journal?

A bullet journal is a system for keeping yourself organised created by Ryder Carroll. It’s a free-form planner, journal, log and more. It’s very flexible as you can tailor it to your needs.

Getting Started With a Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal Kit

So first up, what am I using to bullet journal? Well, I shared my unboxing video over on my YouTube channel last week, as I received a gorgeous parcel of stationery from Bureau Direct.

I have a Leuchtturm 1917 dots A5 notebook, which is proving to be perfect for the job so far so I am really pleased with it. I’m writing with a Lamy Safari fountain pen, along with then using gel pens, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners and washi tape to set it all up.

Of course, the beauty of a bullet journal is that you can grab any notebook and pen and get going with this.

Bullet Journal Basics

Armed with the kit, I popped over and went through the how to get started guide on the official Bullet Journal website.  I made notes. The main points are:

– The journal comprises of 4 modules, Index, Future Log, Monthly Log and Daily Log

– Rapid Logging is the key to bullet journaling. You’ll note down tasks, events, notes and the like, and all are annotated with simple symbols.

– Migration. At the end of a day/month, check over your tasks and consider whether the incomplete actions still need to be done, if so move them on or ‘migrate’ them, or maybe they aren’t worth your time after all? It’s a chance to reflect and plan.

– It’s very fluid and entirely your own design. Yes, you have these components, but then as you have a blank notebook, you can make it your own.

This is a great overview of the bullet journal system:

Basics grasped, I then visited Boho Berry’s blog and YouTube channel for tips and inspiration, and joined her Facebook group.

I scrolled back through my Planner Ideas Pinterest board and Instagram using the #bulletjournal and #BuJo hash tags, and by the end of all that, I needed a breather! Here are a few shots to give you a feel for layouts…

Bullet Journal Layouts


A photo posted by Esther (@freckledex) on


A photo posted by Jess Maty (@heartistic.jess) on


A photo posted by Kara | Boho Berry (@boho.berry) on

You see, whilst information and inspiration can be a good thing when starting something new, it can also overwhelm and lead to procrastination. So I took a step back, and this would be my first tip for getting started with a bullet journal…

Think About What You Need Your Bullet Journal To Do

It is so easy to get caught up in browsing pretty layouts, arty doodles, conforming to certain patterns and worrying over how the bullet journal looks.

It put me off starting mine initially, as I wanted to get it ‘just so’, and I saw so many truly beautiful journal images. I am also not in the least bit artistically talented.

Maybe a bullet journal’s not for me then? Well, of course it is for absolutely anyone. (Do check out my 8 Reasons You Should Be Using a Bullet Journal post)

At this point, you need to ask yourself this – ‘Why are you starting a bullet journal?’ By thinking about what you need or want it to do for you, how you’ll set it up and use it all starts to fall into place.

A few suggestions:

Daily to-do list for productivity
Fitness tracker
Meal planner
Appointment calendar
Gratitude journal
Food log
Daily journaling
Creative doodles and outpourings
Mind-mapping and planning
Lists for birthday ideas, Christmas cards, holiday plans and so on
Pet journal and notes
Garden journal
Study planner

Seriously, I could go on all day as you can use a bullet journal for absolutely anything, you just need to decide what you’ll include in yours to get you started. (I’ve since written 35 Things to Track in your Bullet Journal for further inspiration)

It’s Fluid

So you think you’ve figured out what you want it to do, so you can start working out how it needs to be set up. As the idea forms in your head, just get it down on paper.

You could spend forever browsing other ideas and umming and ahhing over what you like and what you think would work best, but I’d say, you just need to put pen to paper and start. And the thing with a bullet journal is that it doesn’t really matter how you start it, as you can change it up as you go along.

I’ve got mine set up for June now, I’ll see how that works for me, and then review it and alter it as I see fit from month to month. Life changes from month to month, too, so I’ll want to use it for different things.

For example, at the moment I’m all about gardening, so I’m keeping track of what’s flowering out there and when to consider changes that I’ll want to make come the autumn, ready for next year. I won’t want to do that in a couple of months time. But then at that point, my Open University course will start again, so I’ll no doubt add some pages and trackers for studying at that point.

Just Start!

Just give it a whirl. It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting it to look just so or to include this, that and the other, that you miss the point.

Figure out what you want it to do, get something set up, and you can then take it from there and change it as and when you want to. That’s been my biggest learn so far.

I’m now a week into it and it’s working for me so far so I’ll continue to share my bullet journal journey here, along with over on Instagram and YouTube and am very happy to share posts and videos according to your questions and suggestions, so do feel free to shoot them over to me.

My next update will show you my layouts and how I use it, along with a review of what’s worked for me in June and any changes I’ll make for July.

Do you bullet journal? If you don’t have I piqued your interest?

Getting Started With a Bullet Journal

You might also like to check out 52 Bullet Journal Collections Ideas..Just Because! and 10 Gorgeous Instagram Accounts for Bullet Journals or perhaps take a peek at my July Bullet Journal set up over on YouTube.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links 

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28 thoughts on “Getting Started With A Bullet Journal”

  1. I’m in my seventh month, and started my second book this month. Honestly, using a Bullet Journal has definitely made me more productive and I’ve achieved more in the last seven months than in the last few years. I have anxiety/depression so sometimes nothing gets done, but breaking everything into achievable mini lists and trackers has really helped. I hope you enjoy yours too πŸ™‚

    1. I do think the process of breaking everything down is so productive and quite reassuring as it’s all in manageable chunks. It’s going well so far, will update soon! Thanks πŸ™‚

  2. I’m looking forward to seeing how you get on with it Jocelyn! I still haven’t started a full one but I do bits and bobs in one of scrappy notebooks. I like the daily to do lists and when I have a bit more time over the summer I hope to set it up properly for a full month. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see how you get on, loved your unboxing video too!

    1. I’m really happy with it so far – I’ll update in a couple of weeks with more details on how I’m using it. Mine is easy to set up, too, which makes it more likely for me to stick to! And thank you!

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  13. I’m thinking of starting a Bullet Journal so Hayley (Hayleyfromhome) suggested I pop over & see your posts. I think i’ve got the idea of it now but I suppose the best way to really understand it is to get a notebook & try it out.

    1. That was lovely of Hayley, hope they helped then. Yes, I hesitated a little and really I was fine once I just started writing in a notebook – you can’t go wrong as it’s personal to you. Have fun with it!

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  15. I have been doing this for years and I love it! it really helps not have bits of paper everywhere. Everything is in one place. It’s one’s own and can do anything with it, but learn the foundation. This is the most important part in setting it up and staying consistent. I use simple composition notebooks and decorate them. Inside isn’t always or is hardly ever fancy. I can when I want to, but ultimately, my goals are to not have little pieces of paper all over the place and this has fixed that.

    1. I love how it keeps everything in one place, and it’s like second nature now. Mine is rarely fancy, I just get creative as and when I want to, it’s very much a practical tool for me.

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